Champions League to be held in India
The BCCI-backed Champions League Twenty20 tournament will be played this year in India but may not feature a team from England, Lalit Modi, the IPL commissioner, has told Cricinfo. Modi's statement comes on a day the English press reported that the ECB, which has been at loggerheads with the BCCI over issues regarding an international Twenty20 tournament, was finalising a "rival" Champions League, to be held in Abu Dhabi.
The one organised by the Indian board, Modi said, will be held from September 29 to October 8 at three venues - Jaipur, New Delhi and Mohali. The tournament, details of which will be finalised in Mumbai on Wednesday at a meeting to be attended by officials from the BCCI, Cricket South Africa (CSA) and Cricket Australia (CA), has received "four separate offers of US$750 million each" for the commercial and TV rights for a 10-year period, Modi said.
The ECB will not be represented at the meeting and, Modi said, the tournament is also unlikely to include England, which "has been unreasonable" in continuing to object to various rules and regulations, including the ban on players from the unauthorised Indian Cricket League (ICL), the share-holding pattern and profit-sharing formula.
"We are going ahead with the tournament whether England joins up or not, "Modi said. "South Africa and Australia are fully on board with the various rules and regulations but the ECB is being unreasonable and continues to have objections to issues like the shareholding pattern and the governing structure. But we can't wait any longer and we are going ahead. It's now up to the ECB to decide whether it wants to join us or not."
A report in the Sunday Telegraph said the ECB was involved in talks with the royal family of Abu Dhabi over a Champions League to be held there with £750m available over ten years. Asked about the possibility of the ECB organising a Champions League of their own, Modi said "they are welcome to do so" but added that no Indian team would participate in that tournament. "There is no question of any Indian team, including those from the IPL, participating in any other Champions League, whether it's organised by the ECB or anybody else. Anyway, we must not forget that it's the television revenue that decides the fate of such tournaments and it's very obvious where that is headed right now."
The BCCI's Champions League originally planned to include the top two Twenty20 domestic teams from India, Australia, South Africa and England. With the ECB's participation in doubt, Modi said a team from Pakistan has been confirmed while the last slot may be filled by a team from New Zealand or even Sri Lanka.
"I can confirm that Pakistan will send a team because even if the ECB joins us, only one team from England can participate, which is Middlesex," Modi said. "As for New Zealand, Sri Lanka, or even West Indies, they will all be taking part from next year, anyway, when we expand to 12 teams. One of them will send the eighth team this year, if the ECB stays away and refuses to send even Middlesex."
Kent, the other finalist in England's domestic Twenty20 tournament, has players affiliated to the ICL and will not be invited, Modi confirmed. "Kent will not be invited but we will be happy to welcome Middlesex. But for that to happen, the ECB has to take a final call," Modi said.
The dates for the tournament clash with a tour game for Australia ahead of their first Test against India on October 9 but Modi said the issue will be sorted out on Wednesday. Matthew Hayden and Michael Hussey, who are part of the IPL's Chennai Super Kings, which has qualified for the Champions League, are also expected to be part of the Australian team for that practice match in Hyderabad from October 2-5.
Modi added that the Champions League's governing structure, profit-sharing formula and shareholding pattern, to which the ECB had objected, will be revealed after Wednesday's meeting in Mumbai but confirmed that the BCCI owns 50% of the tournament.
Ajay Shankar is deputy editor of Cricinfo